25. Life lessons from a hitchhiker: firstly, you may be excused from saving the galaxy if you have a headache.

So I’ve just finished books two and three of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (titled The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and Life, the Universe, and Everything), and thought I’d share a few of life’s lessons that Douglas Adams taught me.

Before I impart my hard-earned knowledge onto you ducklings, I want to make sure that you had all read my commentary on the first book in the series? Yes? Excellent.

Firstly, the universe has no end. Don’t be confused by the Restaurant at the End of the Universe – it actually uses time-travel hydraulics to continuously serve expensive dinner at the very moment when the universe implodes. I hear it’s a spectacular show.

Following on from this, it is only natural that you start feeling a little existential angst when you think of the vastness of the universe in comparison to your own meagre existence. Don’t fret. This is perfectly normal. Take a deep breath, and consider the Oglaroonians, of planet Oglaroon, who all live in one nut tree, despite an entire planet full of hospitable forests at their disposal. It is decreed that any other trees are hallucinations and, should an Oglaroonian persist in such talk, s/he is presumably put to death by being kicked off the tree.

Now that you are feeling more or less normal, think of your chosen career. It’s all well and good if you are an academic or a scientist or a tradesperson because, (congratulations!) you are a useful member of society. Lawyers, hairdressers, marketing managers and the like are not. Should the imminent doom of your planet be announced, along with a plan for sequestering the population into three spaceships to colonise Somewhere Else, then do not get on your spaceship if it’s the first one set for departure. Run and hide instead. There is no imminent doom; you, along with the rest of the pointless third of the population, are simply being tricked off the planet.

On to more practical matters. I’m sure you had noticed by now, at least abstractedly, that all humans suffer from a blind spot, or, if you will, selective vision. If you are a scientist, you can turn this propensity into state-of-the-art invisibility technology. Although true invisibility is nigh on impossible, one can hide pretty much anything in a Someone Else’s Problem field.

To be truly successful at life, you need to change your negative thinking patterns. You may believe that it is impossible for humans to fly unaided. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy disagrees: “There is a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” I give you a moment to contemplate how this bit of information has changed your outlook on life forever.

Done? Good.

Finally, stop blaming the ruler of the universe for your shortcomings. He has as little clue as you do about why shit happens, and any conversations will result in a strong urge to punch him. If you are unconvinced, think of an extremely annoying and indecisive philosophical essay, with an excess of qualifiers and footnotes. Yep, like that.

… I have faith you guys can figure out the rest.

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15 responses to “25. Life lessons from a hitchhiker: firstly, you may be excused from saving the galaxy if you have a headache.

  1. Pingback: 100 Books To Read … Or die trying | The Friande

  2. How many books were in the Hitchhiker’s trilogy? I’ve lost count.

    When I was younger, the books reminded me a lot of a sunnier, more British Kurt Vonnegut, but looking back, the ending of the second book, where it’s revealed (SPOILER) that humans are descended from unimaginative middlemen was pretty bleak and cynical, even if it was very funny.

    On the other hand, it’s hard to beat the one-liners (“I demand we may … or may not … be philosophers”), and it’s hard to beat Adams’ advice for learning to fly.

    • There’s six books, but the last was written after Adams’ death. I’ve never read Vonnegut, it’s on my to-be-read list (though, strangely, not included in the 100 books). The humans being descended from the middlemen was pretty funny. I got annoyed partway through that section, simply because the people were driving me up the wall. But the constant, and often pointless, committee meetings kind of remind me of a city council or the like. So it was a little bleak, but the way the middlemen acted was rather insightful.

  3. This is a great review. I’ve never read these books, but must.

  4. Read this a good few years ago now & use the “somebody elses problem field” at work constantly, never mastered the ground avoidance strategy & as a cyclist that’s caused me problems on many an occasion.

  5. As a lawyer, thats rather depressing, hehe. I loved these books but I read them all at one time and it was a lot to take in all at once

  6. I have never read any of the Hitchhiker books. It sounds like they might be worth reading.

  7. Thanks for writing Ilona, now, at least I am prepared! Oh, and I also have to remember to bring some cash with me. What type of currency you think the ‘Last restaurant in the Universe’ uses? Visiting Oglaroonians seems like fun, you up for a trip? I just happen to have a rocket in my apartment! Only kidding :D

    I enjoyed reading sooooo much!! Ilona this was a perfect read after having to make up a 2 hour essay yesterday. I have just emerged from the trenches looking for a great read, glad I found it.

    Oh! I have to mail you! :D

    • Ooh actually, because the restaurant is set in the future, you just have to deposit one dollar into a high interest account. It covers your extremely expensive meal at the restaurant. Adams was quite inventive.

      I’m glad I helped you out, I know how exhausting essays/exams were. So glad that’s over for good. Though I think I might get an MBA later.

  8. Pingback: 25. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Humans, and Digital Watches. | The Friande

  9. i read the first book and i really liked it but i do not understand what you are supposed to learn fromit or how it parodies government big business and politics can you pleasse help me???!

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